Bible Versions Revisited

‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. ‘ -2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)

As you may know if you have spent any time reading my blog, I tend to use various translations of the Bible in providing Scripture references for the points I wish to convey. We live in a country that is still fortunate to have the freedom within its borders to purchase and ready any number of fine translations. Of course, many places in the world do not have that luxury and must get by with whatever is available to them (often through an underground source).


A typical day of study includes several different versions of the Bible. In the morning, I read a chapter of Proverbs, this month using the NLT. Next month I will pick some other version to see what gems it may offer. Later in the day I use the King James Version to study the book of Revelation using the C-3000 Bible study series by Chuck Smith. I use the King James because that is what he is using for reference in the study. My father was partial to the King James Version so I am used to it from my youth (when many others used it more than they do today). I love the KJV, but am not an KJV-onlyist. At the end of the day, I am studying a Psalm with David Guzik’s series on the Psalms which is available on YouTube and highly recommended. For that, I use my all-time favorite trusty ESV Study Bible which is all marked up from the past few years of notes I have seen fit to jot down within its pages. While he uses the NKJV, I find it easy to follow along with the ESV as they are both more literal translations. I also hold the NKJV in very high regard.


For those new to the faith or serious study of scripture, there are different types of translations to aid in the understanding of God’s word. There are more literal, moderate and dynamic translations that are readily available and usually in inexpensive forms or contained within free Android/iOS apps such as YouVersion. I would always recommend that the believer have at least one of the more literal translations such as NKJV, ESV or NASB available. While all English translations are but commentaries on the original text (as you are reading what the translators think the text means), a more literal translation uses less literary and interpretative license and often tends to read very similar to another more literal version. It is also handy to have access to a more dynamic translation such as the NIV or NLT to help get a better perspective on the what the text may be saying. While controversial in some quarters, I think the NIV is a decent Bible version and often makes passages more clear than a literal, stiff rendering might. The NLT has been a personal favorite of mine and one I always recommend to new believers just delving into God’s precious word. Please remember, more dynamic translations such as the NLT or NIV do rely more on interpretation/opinion than the more literal versions do.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some other valuable resources I use when delving deeper into the meaning of certain passages of scripture. The Amplified Bible is great for getting into the crux of the meaning of certain verses in many cases (as long as you member that the bracketed information you see is the editor’s explanation of the what they think the text is saying). I do find that it often opens up the meaning of some verses in a way that I can miss on my own. Another fantastic resource are the Key Word study Bibles produced by AMG Publishers, They are available in KJV, 1977 NASB, ESV, NKJV and now the CSB. They refer you to the back of the Bible for definitions of many key words found in both the Hebrew and Greek texts. A very worthy investment. I am fortunate to have both the ESV and NASB 77 versions and I love them. The last one I will mention here is an all-time favorite: The Thompson Chain Reference Bible. For many years Kirbride published the Thompson in KJV, NKJV, They were having some problems and finally sold the publishing rights to Zondervan, who has done a wonderful job of publishing new editions that are actually more affordable and come with decent covers and sewn bindings for years of use. I recently acquired a hard cover version of the new NIV edition which has been updated and expanded and now comes in “Comfort Print,” which I find much easier on the eyes. I highly recommend it, especially if you are partial to the NIV and may have older eyes such as I do. Several other versions are also available including ESV, NASB. What makes the Thompson so valuable to me is its lack of personal opinion. It tends to let the Bible interpret itself through the use of thousands of references. Again, a personal favorite of mine and one I use daily (I have an old KJV edition that I’d be lost without).

Hope this post helps you in determining the best course of action in studying His precious word.

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